Review: Parham’s Field

Sending out a new book for review is a nerve-wracking experience. It’s like sending one of your children into a beauty pageant. Is it tough enough? Is it rough enough? Is it rich enough to love enough? One never knows until those words come back in.

Indie authors live and die by reviews. Whether it’s an Amazon review, a Good Reads review, or a review from a blog, book reviews are the best way to spread the word about new horror fiction. Horror is the red-headed mutated stepchild of fiction genres as it is; we horror folk are a small shire of fandom, and putting the word out about a book we like is not always easy.

With all that said, please find here a review of my latest novella, Parham’s Field, from Nev Murray of Confessions of a Reviewer, a UK based horror fiction review site. All I will say by way of introduction is this: Nev gets it. And I am ever so grateful.

You can purchase Parham’s Field right from the “Books” page of this here website. Won’t you? We’ll all be pleased if you’ll make that decision.

…and we’re back.

Hey. Been a little minute, eh?
Yeah. Sorry about that. I guess a got a little caught up in things.

And really, you can’t blame me for that. I mean, look around. New digs! Fancy, right? All dark and shit. My wife did it. I like it. You can find all my books here, a weird little bio I cooked up, and some bloggity stuff, like this.
There’s a part of me that really enjoys the blogging process. I like the informality of it, the little glee that comes from sitting down to write and just letting it rip, without the set parameters of a story.
There’s a larger part of me that just plain forgets to do it.
We get caught up, you see. It happens to me. I’m willing to bet it happens to you, too. Maybe not with blogging. Other things, perhaps.
We’re professionals in this family, and I know there are a lot of things I’m supposed to include in a blog. I need to talk about my projects. There need to be keywords, and my SEO has to be high, or else no one is ever going to read this thing and, pray tell, what will Google think of me then?
All this to say, you can expect some self-promotion here. It is my website, after all, and I can’t help but get excited about certain things. Like my new book, for example, which may be one of the weirdest things I’ve ever produced. That’s saying a lot.
It’s called Parham’s Field. It’s short, but as the old cigarette ads used to say, it’s tight and fully-packed.
Heh.
It’s a love story gone wrong, to put it mildly, with a smattering of Irish mythology and a bit of East Tennessee history thrown in for good measure. That by itself may not be enough to compel you to read the story, but if I go too far into it, it sounds like a friggin’ Lifetime movie.
I assure you it is anything but.
It is about what happens when you take the “contract” part of a marriage too seriously. It’s about possession. Revenge. Regret. It’s about what happens when you live in a fucked-up little town called Elders Keep.
I obviously encourage you to buy the novella, which is inexpensive, but not for a dumb reason like, “I need the money.” I write about stuff I like. All writers should. There’s something kind of nasty about “writing for the market.” Most of the market feels soulless. Of course, the people who do write for the market, some of them, are making crazy cash. Maybe I should write some book about The Girl With something or other. Maybe stick a random number in the title. The Girl With 24 Haunted Sports Bras. Yeah. That could work.
This isn’t going to be just me talking about me and my books because that would be incredibly boring. I love horror movies. I love music, especially older music. I love professional wrestling. I talk about that kind of stuff a lot. I’ll be blogging about it, too.
Right now, I’m of the mind to watch the entire series of Amityville Horror movies. That would be fun for me to write, and maybe some of you would enjoy reading that. I hope so, anyway. I want you to be engaged. Leave comments. Follow me on social media. Name a writer that doesn’t want you to read their work, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t a writer.
To quote Cheap Trick, “I want you to want me.” Well, not me, personally. I am a married dude.
But maybe you could hang around for a bit. See what’s new. Talk for a while. And if the topic of conversation gets a little, well, weird, let it serve as a reminder of where you are, whose house you’re in.
Even when you’re in the brightest of lights, turn around. You’ll see the darkness.
We’ll talk later, you and I. All you have to do is show up.

P.S. My SEO is for this post is fucking terrible. 

The Last Discovery

Okay, look. The more I read this Jeffery X Martin‘s stuff, the more freaked out I get. I don’t know how I missed it the first time, but he actually mentions WREK in his books! Is he listening to the station? Does he know who I am?

Come to think of it, I didn’t know half the songs he mentions before I played them on the radio. I don’t even remember buying the CD’s. I have them, though. I’ve seen them. I’ve sung along to them. I think.

Haven’t I?

They say if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. But I can’t remember not working at WREK. I’ve always been here. I’ve never not been here. It’s like that damned Kubrick movie: I’ve always been the caretaker.

Caretaker.
Caretaker.
Character.

Well, that can’t be true. It makes sense, in a real stoned sort of way, but… no. That’s some hot meta bullshit.

But if I don’t have any memories besides the radio station, and I do not, and I can’t even remember choosing my own playlists, then I have to consider it.

Jesus. Come to think of it, I don’t know who I am. I can’t tell you my name because I don’t know it. And if I don’t know my name, it’s because he hasn’t written it yet.

And if I’m just a character in some hack’s horror book, then you’ve got to help me. Yeah, you. If you’re still reading this, then maybe you’ll read Jeffery X Martin‘s books, too.

Don’t you get it? I’m not real until you read me. And I can’t not be real, because I AM real. Aren’t I?

Aren’t you?

Such a busy Friday!

There’s so much going on today, I scarcely know where to begin. I’m excited, to say the least.

First of all, my new column of Popshifter has started to run. It’s called “New Country for Old Men,” and it’s about the current spate of country music the radio won’t stop playing. Some of it is good. Most of it is not good at all, and at its worst, it is misogynistic, culture appropriating garbage. Very little of it sounds like country. 
Of course, I’ll still be dealing with my love of New Wave in the “Waxing Nostalgic” column, and this week I’m looking at The Fixx. Not an obscure band, but they are more than the one-hit wonder some people seem to take them for. 

Logo FinalSecondly, our new podcast is out in the open! That’s right, Cootie and I have unleashed our own show upon an unsuspecting world. Called “Kiss the Goat,” the show takes a look at Devil movies, a weird sub-genre that we both love. We’ll also be taking some sidequests, like how Satan is viewed in popular culture. I’m sure we’ll meander into some world religion conversations, too, and that’s part of why I think the show is going to be interesting. Will it be a really deep episode? Or will it just be Cootie and X getting a little tore up and talking about the old boogah-boogah? You won’t know until you listen. As of this writing, the show is only available on PodOMatic, but it will soon be accessible on iTunes and Stitcher Smart Radio. 

Hopefully, you’ll be able to hear two SixPointFives this month. The one for July was postponed due to bad weather. We’ll be recording that one later this month. I’m hoping to pull another one together, where you, the listener, will take a larger part. I’m looking for serious questions about genre film from you! Send ’em in to sixpointfivepodcast@gmail.com. My panel and I will be pleased to answer your questions… once I decide who my panel is going to be. You’ve got until August 15th to send in your questions. 

Take a read and give a listen! It’s all for you guys, and I hope you enjoy it. And as always, I humbly ask that you spread the word. 

I Cannot Keep My Own Secrets.

I am really shitty at being my own publicist. When I come up with a new project that I’m ready to release, I want to get it out there now, now, now. I don’t want to wait. I devise my own street dates and they become my enemies. I irritate myself.

It’s not braggadocio. It’s a child-like over-exuberant personality. This is my new shiny thing. I’d like to show it to you.

So, let’s see who really reads this blog. I’m going to tell you a secret.

I’m starting a new podcast. Yes, this makes three. One that I am a constant guest on, and two that I host and produce myself. It really doesn’t take that much time. As my patroness saint, Amanda Fucking Palmer, says, “Stop pretending art is hard.”

There is an art to a good podcast.
It’s not hard. It just takes a little time, is all.

The podcast I introduced this year, The Six and a Half Feet Under Podcast, has been reaching really high numbers. I attribute this to two things: it only comes out once a month, which makes it more of a “prestige” podcast, and people perceive it as a “serious” podcast. It is that; we go into a lot of issues that most podcasts shy away from. I give no fucks; I’ll talk about anything.

If you’ve read my fiction, you already know that. I ain’t skeered.

While the Six Point Five is still going strong, I decided to go ahead and bring out a new podcast, sort of a dream project of mine.

Logo FinalThe show is called “Kiss the Goat” and it is all about those crazy Devil movies that saw their heyday in the late Sixties and early Seventies, but which had new life breathed into them by the Italian market during the Eighties. Possession, exorcism, crazy nuns, badly dressed cult members… we’ll get to all of that eventually on “Kiss the Goat.”

Go ahead and join the Facebook group. Just do a Facebook search for “Kiss the Goat” and you’ll find us easily enough. The first episode drops on August 1.

I’m extremely pleased and proud of this because my co-host is my wife. This is a project we get to work on together. Refining, writing, choosing which piece of garbage to review next: we get to do that all as a couple. We already like each other. Hopefully that chemistry comes across during the show.

Also, Cootie has a sweet voice and the sort of openness you don’t often find on podcasts. She’s something else.

I hope it’s something you dig. All of these things — the podcasts, the stories, the blog itself — are all things designed to entertain you, the audience, my loyal Heathens. Aw, hell… they’re fun for me, too. I’ll quit doing it when you quit reacting.

Come to Hell with us, won’t you? It won’t take long and you just might have a good time. 

Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?

I have nightmares. Every night.

You kind of expect that from a bloke like me, I guess. The guy who writes the scary stories. Nightmares must be part of the job description, right?

nightmare1Well, they aren’t just nightmares.

They are night terrors. I have had them since I was five years old. They are recurrent. They make me sweat; when I wake up, my pillows are soaked with perspiration. It’s uncomfortable, to say the very least.

And they terrify me.

Read more “Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?”

I’d rather have a bottle in front me than have to have a Hobby Lobby-otomy.

bush

There are those who are constantly super-pissed about some political issue going on in this country. How do you do that? How do you keep up the energy to remain so mad, all the time? Is there some kind of Lazarus Pit of hate y’all draw from? Is there a purity to your depth of patriotism that I’m not privy to? Or do you just like to argue?

HL1I’ve only been talking about this whole Hobby Lobby thing for a couple of days, and I’m over it. Exhausted. Done. I would much rather talk shitty movies and horror stories than get involved in gigantic slabs of political polemic.

Besides… no one seems to be mad about what I’m mad about, which makes it frustrating for me. There’s something more nefarious going on here than a woman’s right to behave as she sees fit sexually and whether or not an insurance company should be forced to pay for that. There’s something going on that affects everyone, regardless of gender or behavior.

They’re taking our language.

Read more “I’d rather have a bottle in front me than have to have a Hobby Lobby-otomy.”

The existential dread of Mondays, Part I: The helplessness of Internet friends.

I’ve always believed that friends are where you find them, especially in the Internet age. I have a lot of friends that I consider to be very close that I’ve never met in real life. I’ve Tweeted them. I’ve talked to them on Skype. But I’ve never shaken their hands or been able to smell their cologne or perfume. I don’t think that matters. The internet allows you to cut through that bullshit and get to the heart of the matter. When all you have is conversation, your on a direct road into someone’s brain. From the brain to the heart is not a long trip. And you can tell a faker or a tourist just as well online as you can in real life.

That’s what I think, anyway. I’ve never been catfished. I would like to think I can tell the difference between a real person and a person who wants to be real.

Having said that, someone that I believe to be real is having chemotherapy for the first time today. Because Mondays don’t suck bad enough, right? This woman has always been exceeding kind to me. She’s a fantastic writer, and she’s given Jim Branscome and I good, helpful notes on the scripts we’ve sent her for peer review. She always seems to want us to do well. She’s also incredibly funny, and seems to get my random, poorly timed jokes better than most.

I hate that she is going through this. I’m angry that something as small as cells can rebel against someone, turn against their host and become something dark and festering. I’m frustrated that words do not and can not make things better. I’m mad that I am here and she is there; that I can’t bring my whole family together and show up at the hospital with terrible things like sparkly shoes and 80’s wigs and cake and a shitty Michael Bay movie, and that we can’t hang out with her family and get to know each other while all this other bullshit goes down.

I am daunted by distance and by knowing just enough, but not enough.

I hope she’s reading this. If nothing else, I hope someone is reading it to her. I hope someone tells her that a lot of people think she’s brave, and that a sense of humour is the best thing to have in a situation like this. I hope someone is doing her makeup. I have reasons to believe that all these things are happening, and I am pleased by that.

I hope, also, that someone tells her there a lot of people online who think she’s real, and are thinking about her. Wishing nothing but good things for her. Ready to see her survive.

We’re writers. We tell stories, even when they’re difficult to tell. I’ve been reading the blog.
I’m looking forward to a few years from now, when the book comes out.

 

Pardon me, do you have any sorts? I seem to be out of them.

I had a birthday this past Sunday. I turned… an age. Everybody was cool about it, didn’t bring numbers into it all.
Except my dad.

My dad kept reminding me how old I am all throughout the phone call we had. I wasn’t sure if he was amazed I have lived as long as I have, or if he was amazed he lived to see me be this old. Regardless, he sang “Happy Birthday” to me while playing his ukelele. I don’t care how old you are: that’s pretty awesome.

AmbroseI got a video game for my birthday from the young’uns. It seems like an odd thing for a man my age to receive, but fuck. John Carpenter spends his time playing Dead Space 3 and watching basketball. I could do worse. Besides, they got me the WWE 2013 game. And it’s fun as hell. I could spend days playing that damned thing. I guess I have done that for a couple days anyway.

I love pro wrestling. I don’t have any guilt. I love to play the game, I love to watch the shows, I’ll go see it live, I don’t care. I know more about the history of that particular thing than I do most things.

Wrestling. Horror movies. World religions.

Even to me, I seem odd. In a lot of ways, I’m still coming to terms with myself. Maybe I’m the embodiment of the New South; still clinging to the old ways, like watching NWA legacy families rise through the ranks of WWE, a distinctively Northern company, yet embracing the new ways, like computer technology and not lynching people because they’re a little bit different.

It’s that weird feeling of being half a step behind that plagues me. A little off kilter. Dancing to the wrong beat.

The part of my brain in charge of writing feels like hot Silly Putty, a little melty and weird. It still is what it is, and knows what it is designed to do, but it’s not quite up to doing it yet. I need to absorb things for a while, not constantly put out, like a cheerleader with horrible self-esteem and an amazing reputation.

I haven’t had to do anything. And I haven’t done anything. It’s a weird feeling. Puts me out of sorts.
Yet I understand that a pitcher that does not get refilled will have nothing to pour out.

So I’m refilling. Might be a couple days, might be a few weeks. Who knows? I don’t. I can’t predict this shit.

Gotta go find my sorts.

 

In defense of “Motherf***er.”

A minor kerfuffle started on Twitter last night. Nothing huge, mind you, but it was enough to make me think about words and language and stuff.

samOne of my Twitter friends was complaining because he had a moment of realization: that most of the people he followed on Twitter were “cynical motherfuckers.” Someone replied that any male tweeter who has a child can rightfully be called a “motherfucker.” I, too, have thought this, and responded that I fuck a mother as often as I can. Which I do. My wife’s daughter is eighteen.

My wife is a mother. She is also hot. We have sex. Therefore, I am a motherfucker.

For some reason, this made everyone else in the conversation feel “icky.”

How does sex still make adults, presumably non-virgins, feel weird? I understand not wanting to have the mental image of my hot wife and I going at it, but I wanted a little more information from my Tweeps. I asked why that admission made people feel weird. The only response I got was that it sounded like I was hanging out in gynecologists’ offices, hoping to get lucky. “Hey, gurl, how’d that ultrasound go? Wanna try my pre-natal vitamins? Come on, get in my mini-van.”

I find myself unsatisfied with this answer.

I want to know why it’s not okay to use “motherfucker” in a positive fashion.

After all, we’re the society that embraced the concept of the MILF (Mother I’d Like to Fuck). There is (or was) a television show called “Cougar Town,” which is about older women, who have had children, hooking up with younger men. Remember the song “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne? It was a hit, this song, this ode to having sex with women who have kids. In fact, I would say there’s a bit of societal pressure to, in fact, be a motherfucker.

Not your mom, obviously. Your mother is a pristine untouched woman, who can’t be sullied by such things as secretions and bodily fluids, right? If someone says they’re going to fuck your mom, that becomes a reason for violence and anger. It’s an insult. This hearkens back to a time when Motherhood got the capital “M.” It was a calling, something to be honored and sainted for. Everyone who gave birth was placed on a pedestal. You get your own day, you get your own advertising demographic, you get your own kind of blog.

This tendency to protect our mothers is natural. However, what if your mom really wants to sleep with someone? What if she is sleeping with someone? The person she’s schtupping is definitely a motherfucker, but is he/she a motherfucker?

We’ve got to stop thinking we’re all the product of some Immaculate Conception. You were conceived amid sweating and grunting and odd smells. Get used to it, human. There can be no mothers without mother fucking.

slitherSome women look at motherhood as a competition, like a “guess how many things are in this jar” contest. Nadya Suleman, the Octomom, whose gigantic pregnant stomach reminded me of a scene from the movie “Slither,” used in vitro fertilization to have her grand total of fourteen children. Really no motherfuckers involved in that situation, and no one has ever been called a “mother implanter.”

There are also women in the Quiver movement, who have as many children as possible, because it’s their religious belief. Believe me, I’m not in a position to make fun of anyone else’s religious beliefs, but they seem less like mothers and more like insect queens. Those aren’t families; they’re colonies.

And you can’t tell me Jim Duggar isn’t a motherfucker.

Is it simply the inclusion of the word “fucker” in that particular compound word? Really, is “fuck” still THE bad word? Is it even a bad word at all? Do we still believe in the concept of “bad” words, as a society? It certainly seems like we’ve moved on since George Carlin first confronted us with the Seven Words You’ll Can’t Say on Television (which are now the words you almost always hear on television). I’m sure people are still offended by the word, “fuck,” but I’m not sure I understand why.

Our bad words are all political now. “Liberal” is a bad word. So is “Conservative.” You can’t say the words “Tea Party” anymore without starting an argument. It’s hard enough using the words “Left” and “Right.” You have to point to make sure others know you’re talking about directions, not ideological leanings. Once again, we’ve taken words and redefined their place within our language, and given them a moral value.

A moral value is a silly thing to give words.

Emotional depth? Yes. Do words have weight and power? Absolutely. You can destroy or empower a kid depending on which words you choose when you speak to him/her. But can words be good or bad? I don’t think so. Words are a tool. A misuse of words is like trying to open a can with a flat-head screwdriver. You might get the point across. You might also stab right through the palm of your hand. But those two options don’t negate the fact that you are using the tool incorrectly.

The intention behind the word decides the effect of the word.

If you come at me with your fists raised and you call me a “motherfucker,” I can rightfully make the assumption that you are upset, and your intent for that word was to hurt me somehow (it doesn’t). If you are in my home, enjoying the company of my children and my hot wife, and you call me a “motherfucker,” I can take that as a term of good intention (e.g. “Look what you have accomplished simply by choosing to spawn; you are a motherfucker”). If you call me a “motherfucker” and you are Jim Morrison, then you should take a face from the Ancient Gallery and walk on down the hall. Also: stay out of Miami.

Maybe I take things too literally. When someone calls me a bastard, I laugh. I know both my parents. That statement is categorically untrue. Telling me to go to hell is like telling me to go to Narnia or Westeros. Calling me a motherfucker is just a true statement. It’s neither an insult nor a compliment (unless you are also complimenting my hot wife).

Got kids? You’re a motherfucker.
In a relationship with a woman who has children? You’re a motherfucker.
Your dad? He’s a motherfucker.

The world needs motherfuckers like me. Sorry if that offends you.